Customer Experience

We’re Real Busy Today - And Other Phrases That Should Never Be Used In The Customer Service Business

I was always taught that customer service = the 'cheerful giving of attention'. I doubt that these next 5 phrases will make any customer very cheerful.

HTrends I was always taught that customer service = the "cheerful giving of attention".  I doubt that these next 5 phrases will make any customer very cheerful.

“We’re Real Busy Today”

As a customer, do we care if the business is busy? Yes, we want the business to be successful, but not to the detriment of service, especially the service I receive. This phrase leaves the impression in the mind of the customer that we will receive less than desired service and attention because the cashier, waiter, attendant, etc. is too busy to properly tend to us. 

Just greet me, the customer, in your usual pleasant manner and forget that phrase.

“To Be Honest With You”

No, I’d rather you lie to me…what a ridiculous statement that is and one never to make to a customer.  An employee of a business is assumed to be the authority of all the products and services that business offers.  They are expected to be sincere in their approach, genuine in their efforts and of course honest in all other dealings. 

If the employee states that NOW he will be honest, what impression is left in the customers’ mind about everything that has come before this statement? 

“Would You Like To See Our Dessert Menu?”

Never ask a question that can be answered with one word like NO.  Assume the sale and after dinner the waiter should automatically bring over the dessert menu and say something like, "I'm happy to see you enjoyed your entree, may I recommend our delicious homemade apple pie with whipped cream that just melts in your mouth?  It goes great with a nice cup of cappuccino".

As a waiter, if you want to make more money for the business, and yourself, don’t let the opportunity pass you by and present the item directly to the guest first.  Then allow them to decide based on their wants, needs and desires. 

“I’m Not From Around Here”

You are a cashier in a retail store.  As you are ringing in customer’s items she says to you “Excuse me, but do you know where the nearest greeting card store is, it’s my wedding anniversary at the end of this week and I need to get a nice card for my husband”?  Seems like a reasonable request from your customer.

Since you live around 45 minutes away from work and take the same route each time, you have no idea of the local stores, let alone a card store.  So it seems fitting that you would say “I’m not from around here, sorry”.  But isn’t there another way to help this customer?  Why not ask a fellow store employee?  It would be better to say “I’m sorry but I am not aware of the nearest greeting card store but please allow me to find someone else here that may be able to help you”.  Sounds much better doesn’t it?

If no one at your store knows the location of a card store, why not answer the next person in line, or the next after that?  Most people will be more than willing to help it they are asked the right way.  And you will make your customer very happy.

“It’s Against Company Policy”

The policy of a store/business should never be recited to a customer.  They don’t care about your policies; they only care about their questions or concerns being answered and addressed in a timely manner.  If they ask something of you that you are not allowed to do; example: take a return of an item that is damaged and not covered within your usual return policy, then explain that you are not allowed to accept the return because of the damage.  Don’t explain why and how it’s written in your employee handbook.

It is perfectly acceptable to inform a customer that; “Sorry but I will not be able to offer you ______________, but I CAN do this”.  Just as when we never want to tell a customer NO but there is another way to offset the needs of the guest

In the above example, a better response would be “I’m sorry that we cannot accept this damaged item for return but I can offer you a discount coupon good toward your next purchase here”  “I trust that will be a good way to show that we value your business and hope you continue to be a customer”.


About the Author

A 25+ year industry veteran, and known as “the ops guy” during his tenure at Hilton Hotels, Steve DiGioia has redefined the operational and service standards for multiple food and beverage departments for some of the best names in the industry. 

His book “Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift…Even If You’re a Bad Waiter” is an easy to follow training method that can be used across all industries, resulting in better customer retention and repeat business for your company.  Steve also writes a blog focusing on Customer Service Stories and training tactics.

Remember: Only by making your guests feel special, feel as if THEIR enjoyment is YOUR primary concern, will you create the "WOW" experience we all hope for. All else is not important.



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